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Questioning Intonation (2)

Stephen Fry completely articulates my feelings on the matter…..

And another thing!

With reference to the posting below.

Another thing that is guaranteed to drive me nuts is an interviewee starting every answer with ‘So’!

So there!

Questioning Intonation

Oh I know there are much more important things to be concerned about,  but it is one of these things that is pervading the broadcast media. I suppose it started about 20 years ago and I believe it began in Australia.

It consists of someone answering a question but raising the pitch of their voice at the end of a sentence, thus making it sound like another question rather than an answer. It irritates the Hell out of me, to the extent that I have begun shouting at the radio when someone does it.

Being a regular listener to speech and news radio, my anger seems to increase on a daily basis.  Another thing that is becoming evident is the increased use of buzzwords in news interviews. Next time you hear an expert or media type being interviewed, just count the number of times they drop in the following words:

Partnership, robust, engage, stakeholders, consultation process, customers, excellence, best practice and the like.

We are drowning in a sea of glittering generality.

Fisherman’s Blues…..Bladders and Bowels, Waterboys and Girls

It’s going to be a rant today.

Oh yes it is.

I attended my first ‘gig’ at the Apollo in Glasgow in 1976. All those years ago, there were certain unwritten rules and etiquette amongst the audience. There was a certain courtesy afforded to your fellow music enthusiast. For a start the Apollo didn’t have a bar. Those venues who did would stop serving pre-show.

You would proceed to your seat in those days only after having a precautionary visit to the toilet. It was not just bad form to get up during a performance to visit the loo, it was downright disrespectful and rude to the artists on stage and to the people around you. If anyone absolutely had to visit the toilet, they would wait until the end of a song and would not attempt to return to their seat until the next gap in the performance.

I have attended hundreds of gigs since that first one some 37 years ago and not once have I felt the need to get up during a performance to visit the toilet.

Over the years, the code of practice, the etiquette amongst concert goers has deteriorated. It is worst at venues who serve drinks throughout a performance but even at those who don’t serve refreshments, the behaviour of  some people is simply terrible.

Last night at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (who actually close their bars at concert time) was a case in point. I was there to see the Waterboys with my daughter and a friend of mine. After a rather good support set from Freddie Stevenson, punctuated only by having to get up for various latecomers (presumably 8:00 pm hadn’t been printed on their tickets) I nipped out to the toilet at the interval, returning to my seat in plenty time. Despite there being several announcements that The Waterboys would be beginning their performance soon, there were several stragglers who interrupted the opening number.

Then it started.

Three songs in and a woman in front needed to go. She decided this half way through a song and barged past the people in her row. During the rest of the concert I don’t think there was one further song uninterrupted by audience members around us nipping out.

And don’t start me on the ones who were on their phones tweeting for the whole bloody gig!!!

The gig was great and the Waterboys, reprising the Fisherman’s Blues album via their Fisherman’s Box set were superb. Their support act, Freddie Stevenson was pretty good too.

I could just have done without the pishermen and women….


Indelible Stupidity?

I never had the urge to get a tattoo. Perhaps it was the early influence of my father. When I was but a nipper, a neighbour, a middle-aged man who had been in the navy had lots of tattoos. As his skin had stretched with age, the tattoos had blurred accordingly.

“Don’t ever get a tattoo son or you’ll end up looking like that” was the old man’s take on things. As I looked upon the man whose tattoos had turned into a horrible scrawly picture akin to some highly visible blue veins on his limbs and torso, I think I resolved sub consciously never to let anyone with a needle and ink near my skin.

There were kids at school who had home-made tattoos that they did with a pin or needle and some ink. As I got older it was amusing to see some folk with names of ex girlfriends or partners on their arm.

In the last twenty years or so the bloody things have exploded in popularity. David Beckham has a lot to answer for in this respect. However it was another footballer, Ryan Stevenson of Hearts who caught my eye at the weekend….


Why would you want to embellish your skin in this way? I simply can’t understand it. The recent revelation by David Dimblebey that he had got a tattoo to celebrate his 70th birthday proves that the desire is no respector of age, class or intelligence. Maybe Ryan Stevenson is happy with his tattoos and if so, that’s his concern. I doubt if this Jambos fan remains happy with his though:


And does anyone know who Ally Mcoist is?


If any reader is thinking about getting themselves adorned, I’d recommend a wee trip here first.


I see that a checkout assistant at Sainsbury’s refused to serve a customer until she had finished a mobile phone call. The part of the story I don’t like is that after she complained, Sainsbury’s caved in and apologised.

As someone used to serving the public, I can say that nothing gets up a shop assistant’s nose more than a customer conducting a phone conversation whilst you are trying to serve them. Just as one of the most annoying things on earth is two shop assistants engaged in conversation and ignoring (you!) a customer, there is a two-way relationship in the transaction of serving and being served. There is an ettiquette.

The worst thing is when the customer actually answers the phone whilst they are being served. I can forgive them a quick “I’m sorry I’m busy, I’ll phone you back in a minute” but more often than not it’ll begin with some interminable techno ringtone and continue with a stream of trivial shite that needn’t be discussed at all let alone putting aside the courtesy of delaying the conversation for a few minutes.

Oh! and you know what’s worse than that? When you try to communicate with them whilst they are talking, invariably holding up other customers in the process. Half concentrating, taking ages and with one hand they invariably give you the wrong money along with a dirty look for interrupting their conversation!

Sainsbury’s answer? It should have been along the lines of “We insist that our checkout assistants give the customer good service but this does require a little courtesy on behalf of the customer too. In the interests of the speed of serving and to keep waiting to a minimum, we feel that it isn’t too much to ask for a customer to delay their conversation for a few moments”

Instead they caved in.

So some ignorant ‘me,me’ gets an apology and a tenner!

The customer is nearly always right.

But not always…..

Team GB?

Geographical /political ignorance that’s what it is.

The British Isles – Physical/Geographical. All the islands which make up the archipeligo just off Europe to the north west of the continental mainland. This includes Great Britain, Ireland, The Channel Islands, The Scilly Isles, The Isles of Man  and Wight. They include the Hebrides, and the Northern Isles (Orkney and Shetland).

Great Britain – Physical. This is the island of Great Britain which comprises England, Scotland and Wales.

United Kingdom – Political. This is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and includes most of the British Isles but excludes the Irish Republic.

Therefore, why would a competitor from Northern Ireland, Shetland or Jersey feel included in “Team GB”?

It would not surprise me at all if a majority of the residents of the British Isles did not know these simple facts above.

No wonder they confuse the flags of two sworn enemies!

It’s all part of the same ignorance that confuses England/GB/UK and it gets right on my threepenny bits!

If anything it should be Team UK.

Anyway the opening ceremony is on in a few hours.

I’m heading for the hills!


Awards Ceremonies

I see that rather excitingly, U2 have been voted by Q readers as the greatest act of the last quarter of a century…………(yawn! – excuse me.)

Aftere a gloriously tense opening of the envelope, Coldplay were named as (yawn…….) best act in the world today.

Elbow,…..blah! blah! Adelle….blah! blah! Arctic Monkeys……blah! blah!… (yawn!)…….Noel Gallagher, Souxie and the Banshees……..blah! blah! (yawn!)

Join us tonight at The Ben Lomond Free Press Awards (at my house) where awards ceremonies, reality TV and Ricky Gervais fight it out for the top prize of most vainglorious, irritating and pointless things on the planet.

Team Grumpy

When did ‘teams’ pervade everything from sales and marketing to customer service to people who like a particular band/film/ artist?

When did that happen?

You used to read a blurb for something and there would be a phone number or an address with an exhortation to “contact our representative”.

Not now; it’s “Contact our sales team” or “Contact our specialist advisory team” or something similar.

Is it just me who imagines squad of guys and gals just back from a quick game of basketball, all manning the phones wiping sweat from their brow with a towel?

Call me old fashioned but I have a bit more confidence when someone to whom I’m speaking on the phone says “I’ll refer that question to a colleague”,  or “I’ll transfer you to another member of staff who will be able to help you”. “I’m just passing you to another member of the team” means I’m the basketball. Having (metaphorically of course) swivelled on Daryl’s finger, he’s grabbed me with both hands and now I’ve been thrown to Tracy.

“Halllao” says Tracy. I’m sure there is a special training school somewhere in the home counties that they teach telesales people to say hello like this. “Daryl has passed you over to me because you’re having a problem?” The question mark denotes not a question but the irritating habit that people have these days of their voice rising at the end of a sentence. “I’d like to resolve the matter?” “I’ll just go over a few security questions?” “I’m just waiting for that to come up on the screen?”. The rise in the vocal tone seems to be asking for a reply so one mumbles “yes” or “ok”. The whole thing is quite meaningless.

Anyway back to teams. The mourners gathered outside the Amy Winehouse (see what I did there?) are now being dubbed “Team Amy” in the press. “Team Amy?” What the f*** is happening to society?

My two daughters as well as being into Harry Potter, like all these trashy teen vampire movies. One is apparently in “Team Edward” and the other is in “Team Jacob”. There is quite a rivalry.

And another thing when did passengers become customers?

“A message for passengers travelling on the 3:25 to Edinburgh” has now become “A message for customers travelling on the 3:25 to Edinburgh?” Aye, note that f***ing question mark again!!

And notice how even the NHS refers to customers first and patients second? It’s subtle, but is it an insidious way of making us think that this is something we should be paying for at the point of use?

Am I going to phone up the doctor one day soon and have a conversation along the lines of:

“NHS customer team, Mercedes speaking, how may I help you?”

“I’ve got piles”

“Ok hold on until I transfer you to our pain in the arse team?” (phone goes on hold and plays some horrible interminable “R & B” wailing noises interrupted by a message saying “Your call is important to us, please continue to hold…..that pack of frozen peas near the pain”)

Coming soon…..When did continental quilts become duvets?

Sense? Us?

So I finally sat down to do it last night. Perhaps the best incentive to do it is provided on the Scottish government’s website:

Members of the census non-compliance team will visit people that refuse to fill in and return the questionnaire. Anyone who continues to refuse to fill in their census questionnaire will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

You risk a fine of up to £1,000 if you don’t fill in and return your census questionnaire.

Question 16 presented me with a dichotomy:

I simply love the various rich dialects spoken in Scotland. I also love all the old words and phrases. However I hope this question isn’t a trojan horse to promote the complete nonsense of translating documents and road signs into Scots.

Of course it’s all begun, and I can only hope that the completely unnecessary translated pages at the Scottish Parliament are not a sign of things to come.

These translations are for no-one. Is there is anyone in Scotland who speaks as if they are appearing as a guest in the Broons by using a kind of ersatz amalgam of several different versions of Scots?

It is really beyond belief that there is and that they require a written translation to unerstaun parliamentary information.

Anyway, back to the census form. I clicked the boxes which affirm that I can understand, speak, read and write Scots, in the full knowledge that many people will give the same answers but with a very different attitude to my own.

And yes I did say clicked the boxes, the online version was simple and I completed it in about 20 minutes.

If you’re in Scotland and want to complete it online, click here

The very first census on these shores took place in the kingdom of Dalriada (comprising parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland) in the 7th century.

The first English census was the domesday book compiled by the Normans in the eleventh century.

Modern UK censuses began in 1801 and have continued every ten years until the present day, with a break in 1941 for the second world war.

There is some debate whether this census may be the last as so much information is now held about us on various databases anyway.

Tesco will probably provide the info for the next one.

Footnote: I just heard on Radio Scotland a government mannie explaining that the question about Scots was to see ‘what support’ the language required. ‘Much in the same way that Gaelic has received support over the last hundred years’ he said, speaking from his bahooky.

That support includes translated government documents, road signs, subsidised TV channels, schools etc. etc. which has done a fantastic job in reviving the language which seems to have done the square root of hee-haw to arrest the decline in the numbers speaking Gaelic.

Don’t these eejits get it? On the one hand they seem to be telling us that Scots is a separate living vibrant language that has survived untroubled by government interference for hunners o’ years, and on the other that it ‘needs support’.

Chanty wrastlers and tumshies that they are.

Here’s a wee hand grenade for the debate. It is precisely because of the street quality of Scots, the edgy organic nature of it, the kind of almost anti-establishment idiom in which it operates that makes it so good to hear and use.

Hand it over to the academics and tartan taliban and we’ll start to hear the kind of phoney Scots language currently only heard within the confines of Burns suppers in Edinburgh. I feared all this at the opening of the Scottish pairlament when I heard some of these types singing ‘four aw thet end aw thet, a men’s a men four aw thet’ And just to emphasise what a farce the whole thing is there is even a wabsicht to help you decide whether you can speak or understand Scots.

Helpfully the home page is in English.


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